It's bittersweet to write this column — my last regular one for the Retail Technology page.
After three years on Automotive News' retail team, with a focus on covering dealership technology, I'm switching beats. Going forward, I'll be Automotive News' reporter covering General Motors at a transformational time for the Detroit automaker.
I hadn't covered auto retail before this role, and my education came largely from a global pandemic that sent dealerships across the country looking to develop more of an online sales presence at precisely the time I was learning what it meant to buy a car online.
It was a transformational time for auto retailers, too. The pandemic changed a lot of attitudes about car buying, from the location of the purchase to how long it should take. Dealers experimented with video, remote deliveries, e-contracting, digital credit applications and online appointment scheduling. A lot of this shift happened out of necessity because showrooms were forced to close in the spring of 2020 and there often was no other way to sell vehicles.